There is a worry about racism and my take onit is quite simple: the more it's highlighted, the more likely it is to be addressed. So I thought the Panorama programme last week wasn't harmful, it was positive. Let's keep banging the drum about it. Despite a couple of incidents this season, I think England leads the world in accepting everybody as they are, which is something the east Europeans haven't been exposed to and educated about.
Maybe this tournament will achieve that. I think players can cope with it and won't go as far as anyone walking off the pitch but I feel for the families of players if they're going to be caught up in anything, which I sincerely hope won't happen.
My top 10 (with apologies for North-east bias)
Players make tournaments and I've picked 10 to watch, some of them established names but one or two less familiar.
1. Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund and Poland)
A striker who has had a great season for Dortmund and could be the golden boy of the tournament for one of the host nations.
2. Christian Eriksen (Ajax and Denmark)
Everyone will be looking at him to see how good a midfielder he really is. For the money you would have to pay, is he reallytop drawer?
3. Rasmus Elm (AZ Alkmaar and Sweden)
Another young midfielder, who's very good with set-plays and will be fighting the more experienced Kim Kallstrom to take them.
4. Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle and France).
Obviously I'll be looking carefully at the two Newcastle boys. Yohan will be asked to dictate the rhythm behind people likeRibéry and Nasri.
5. Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle and France).
I see Hatem as France's super-sub, maybe in the last 15 minutes when they need to open a team up. He only needs one run todo it.
6. Andy Carroll (Liverpool and England)
Believe me, his physical presence will frighten a few defenders, whoever they are. And a really confident finish to the season will have helped him.
7. James McClean (Sunderland and Ireland)
I hope our fans will forgive me picking a Sunderland player. He's got great energy and he can disrupt teams down the flank.
8. Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax and Holland)
A really attacking right-back who's played in a World Cupfinal and raids up and downlike a winger.
9. Sebastian Giovinco (Parma and Italy)
A little lad playing just off the front-man who may not start, but like Ben Arfa he can have an impact as a substitute.
10. Christiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Portugal)
I've added Ronaldo because this is a big tournament for him. Can he really take hold of it in a tough group for Portugal?
Give divers a late yellow card
The standard of the top European referees is very, very high, although they are clearly stricter about a number of things like certain types of tackle or a high foot. That means you can get a glut of yellow cards and after the furore about the number of players who missed the Champions' League final because of suspensions, I'm pleased that they've changed the rules so that all cards are wiped out after the quarter-final and nobody misses the final because of one extra booking. It would have been a real pity if we had the same thing as in the Champions' League. Getting a card, especially early in the game, is a punishment in itself because it has an effect – you know you are treading a fine line and could get a red and cost your team the game. With a ban after two games, players will still need to be careful. I'm interested to see how much a physical forward like Andy Carroll gets pulled up. Then there's normally one referee who just loses the plot and you have to hope that's not in an England game.
I'm afraid we'll inevitably see some players throwing themselves around, which does make it difficult for the referee.
As Howard Webb said recently there's even a danger now of not stopping the game and finding that a player is genuinely in serious trouble. I think diving is something that should be dealt with retrospectively if necessary – add a yellow card for that if it's not spotted at the time.
But will referees be brave enough to book a top player for diving if it means he misses a quarter-final? That would set an example. I saw Gary Neville saying that if a player wins a penalty for his team he'll get a pat on the back. It can be the case that players and managers have double standards, but the best thing would be to eliminate it altogether.
Why Carroll could prove a secret weapon
It's really important to be as fresh as possible going into these summer tournaments, which is why people like Carroll and Ben Arfa who haven't played as much football as some of the others can have an impact. We've already seen the problems England have had and we know how in the past they've taken players who are possibly not 100 per cent. There's no doubt that the Premier League is played at such an intensity and pace that it has an effect. That's not an excuse, it's a fact.
People say they play just as many games in Spain, but some of those are dead games four or five weeks before the end of the season and they don't have the same physical intensity. Look at how competitive the last couple of weeks of the English season were in those games between top and bottom clubs. For that reason I'm all in favour of a short winter break. We love the Christmas and New Year programme in England and could just take maybe one of those fixtures out, then have a break at the end of January, when the weather is often at its worst. Just to recharge the batteries.
Seek out the new – and copy it
Somewhere there'll be a team that finds a new tactical approach which others will then copy and that's how the game evolves. So as a manager I'll be watching very closely to see how the teams are set up. Will they try to attack through the middle like Barcelona, or go down the outside? Where is the best place to penetrate? It will be interesting to see whether anyone goes for three defenders, like one or two did at the World Cup and Wigan did very successfully this season – that might creep back into the game. I think England under Roy will be a pretty rigid 4-4-2 and hard to beat but may find it hard to score. In a tournament you need wins and that's when you need your flair players to perform.
Coaches will be in with a shout
You have to have such good, modern grounds to host tournament matches these days that they all look excellent. I know there will be far fewer England supporters travelling than normal so I hope that with the high costs in Ukraine especially we don't see a lot of empty seats. I gather at least three of the Ukrainian stadiums have a running track round them too, which can dilute the atmosphere a bit. That can affect the players because the crowd is further away than they're used to, especially after the Premier League. The coaches will just have to shout louder!
Alan Pardew will be writing each week during the tournamentReuse content